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How to Avoid Gas or Flatulence

Updated on March 25, 2013

Its often an embarrassing problem to bring up, but gas or flatulence problems are all too common and afflict people at some time or other in their lives. Of course, the degree to which people are affected vary. In the normal course, an average human being passes gas about 8 to 14 times a day. Anything under 25 each day is considered normal. However, retained gas can be a problem and causes bloating and resultant pain. This can be very annoying and troublesome and hugely inconvenient. We may look at gas as one of those things that are a fact of life and cannot be avoided; however, there are steps you can take to make things much more tolerable and easier for you. So, what are these steps? Well, lets discuss some of these.

Ever Wondered What Causes Gas?

Did you ever wonder what causes all that gas that we seemingly build up inside ourselves? Swallowing air whilst eating (chewing with your mouth open and eating fast) is one of the causes, but the other cause is the food we eat, especially complex carbohydrates such as certain types of sugars, fiber and starch. Intestinal gases in humans are a result of bacterial action in the colon. We eat a lot of carbohydrates (in fact a lot of them) and a lot of these aren't digested by the small intestine. They end up in the large bowel, where bacteria digest them and release these gases.

What Foods Cause Gas?

Beans:  One of the major carbohydrates that produce gas are foods like beans (kidney beans, soybeans, etc.)

Milk & Dairy Products:  Apart from beans, milk and other dairy products also produce excess gas, especially in people who are lactose intolerant.

Sugars:  There are also certain sugars that can cause gas, notably sorbitol and fructose. These are found in certain fruits and vegetables. Sorbitol in fact is used as an artificial sweetening agent and can be found in sugar-free products. Eating fruits and vegetables is healthy and one shouldn't avoid them totally, however moderation would be wise in people who have problems with gas.

Starches:  Starchy foods would include things such as potatoes, pasta, etc.

Fiber:  Fiber found in oat bran, peas, also some fruits can give off gas.

Another Common Culprit Causing Gas:

Did you know you eat air too, along with the food you eat? Obviously, some amount of air is swallowed while eating and can't be avoided. However, certain people swallow more air than normal and this is generally caused by improper eating habits such as eating too fast and eating with the mouth open. The proper way to eat would be to chew gradually with your mouth closed. Chewing gum is also another way you take in excess air via the mouth.

What Are The Ways in Which You Can Reduce Gas?

You can take certain steps to avoid excess gas formation and the resultant gas pains/bloating, etc. Some of these are:

Foods: Avoid gas-producing foods, however, do not completely eliminate them from you diet as you could potentially miss out on important nutrients. Ideally, one would want to reduce on gas-producing foods without completely banning them from your menu.

Medications: Certain over-the-counter medications may help. One such drug is Beano, which is actually an enzyme that helps in breaking down starches and thereby relieves gas produced by vegetables and beans. Activated charcoal tabs may also help relieve gas, although the efficacy of it has been debated. Simethicone is another agent that can help reduce bloating and pain caused by excess gas.

Fiber: Gradually increase your fiber intake. Do not stuff yourself all of a sudden with fiber if you aren't used to them. Instead, you can gradually introduce them to your diet. There are many health benefits from including fiber in your diet, so even though they can contribute to gas formation, do not completely eliminate them from your diet. You can get your body accustomed to fiber by slowly increasing your fiber intake.

Although passing gas up to 25 times a day can be considered normal, anything above that can be a sign of other gastrointestinal disorders. So, if you experience gas more than the normal amount mentioned above, then do see your doctor to get checked up.

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